Robert Downey Jr. Asked Gerard Butler For An Odd Favor
Robert Downey Jr emailed Gerard Butler to tell him to make more action movies like Olympus Has Fallen.
Gerard Butler has proven to be a divisive Hollywood figure due to some of his seemingly basic movies over the years, but he apparently has no bigger fan than Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. In an interview with Uproxx that focused on his recent movie Plane, Gerard Butler said, “Robert Downey Jr. wrote me the nicest email after Olympus Has Fallen” and said “we need more of these movies,” with Butler clarifying “These are the movies, when I was in New York as a kid, and people would shout at the screen and throw things and be like, “No!,” and applaud and cheer.” Now, with Plane, he is hoping to create “a throwback to that, where literally you’re in the energy of the group and everybody’s either terrified or cheering you on.”
The interview helps to underscore Butler’s intent when it comes to Plane, a movie that has a simple name and an even simpler premise: Butler is a pilot who has a reluctant team-up with Luke Cage actor Mike Colter after their plane is forced to land in hostile territory. It’s only by teaming up that they can save the plane’s passengers, but they have long odds to fight against because the plane is on an uncharted island in the midst of a civil war. Some critics have scoffed at the sheer simplicity of the premise, but both Robert Downey Jr. and Gerard Butler believe that this is the exact kind of throwback that modern Hollywood movies are lacking.
Another reason this movie may feel like a bit of a throwback is that it’s been in development since 2016. That was when the movie was announced, but in 2020, this $50 million film couldn’t get proper insurance to cover a possible COVID-19 outbreak, causing Lionsgate Films to temporarily lose distribution rights. The movie finished filming in late 2021 but wouldn’t see the light of day until 2023, meaning that it took a very long time for everyone involved to deliver the kind of blunt action picture that Robert Downey Jr. and Gerard Butler would like to see more of from Hollywood.
The rest of the interview also reveals how seriously Gerard Butler went to create the kind of cheesy 90’s action vibe that Robert Downey Jr. (and likely many others) have been looking for. For example, the studio wanted to call the movie The Plane, but it was Butler who (in a move that echoes the creation of Facebook) decided to drop “the” from the title, insisting that the title was always just Plane and that he has a superstitious fear of studios changing movie titles and those movies bombing at the box office. To help make sure this movie is more of a success, he did more than change the name back: he also personally helped add certain scenes to the film, including one where his character flies a plane directly into a bad guy.
Ultimately, one of the most interesting parts about the interview is the fact that Butler has managed to thrive and create this reliable niche of mid-budget action movies around his own personal brand. While Robert Downey Jr. achieved unprecedented success after kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he also had a first-row seat to watching most action movies (the ones that don’t involve Gerard Butler, at least) try to unsuccessfully copy the Marvel format. Butler understands that he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and in an age of nostalgia, the one thing some audiences are most nostalgic for is going to the theater and enjoying an awesome action movie filled with meaty dudes dealing out brutal beatdowns.